Neighbors with Benefitsbytoffeepopnz©
This isn't a traditional romance. But I enjoyed writing it and I hope someone enjoys reading it.
Next I might write a prequel about how they met.
Cassie smiled politely and tried to appear interested in her date. He was talking about his latest court case, something about developers taking on the council in order to win the right to build fifty houses on a currently forested coastal headland. His face was animated and he was obviously passionate about his job. Normally it was the kind of issue that Cassie would be interested in too but she was finding it difficult to pay attention. The Turkish restaurant they were in was just a little too warm and the wine seemed to be going straight to her head.
Feeling a bit light-headed, Cassie excused herself to visit the ladies' room. Doug's face fell as he realised his story wasn't as completely riveting as he had thought, but he politely stood up and helped pull her chair out. Cassie wished again she'd worn something a little more comfortable than a tight blue dress and ridiculously high heels. But she couldn't help dressing to impress on first dates, and by the way Doug's eyes followed her every move she'd succeeded.
The bathroom was more brightly lit than the main restaurant and Cassie pulled out her phone to check for messages. Predictably enough, there was one from Ben.
#How's the date going?
Cassie thought for a moment and tapped a short reply.
#Not bad, we seem to have several common interests
She splashed some cold water on her face and smoothed down some errant strands of blonde hair that were threatening to fizz. Barely half a minute passed before another text appeared on her phone.
#I still think he's a total dork. Don't stay out too late!
Rolling her eyes, Cassie couldn't help but grin as she popped her phone away. She checked her teeth for stray spinach and returned to her date.
A taxi dropped Cassie off outside her apartment later that night. Doug had been very sweet and kissed her goodnight. He ticked all the boxes on her mental list for a boyfriend -- intelligent, considerate, fit and good-looking too. But she just didn't feel any spark of attraction. She wondered if he'd call. It might be worth a second shot. Maybe if they did some active next time, like hiking, it might be more interesting.
Cassie climbed the stairs to her apartment, cursing the heels again. She noticed the door on the other side of the landing was ajar but paid no heed as she rummaged through her bag for keys.
Suddenly she felt a strong arm grip her around the waist. She gasped and struggled but the assailant just pulled her towards the other door.
"Ben!" she squealed. She twisted around and clobbered him with her handbag.
"Sorry. Did I scare you?" The man's impetuous grin was not at all apologetic and instead of letting her go he pulled her closer and captured her mouth in a passionate kiss.
Cassie melted against his broad chest and she felt a sudden warmth flood her body. Ben pulled her inside his apartment and kicked the door shut. Then he pinned her against the wall with his body and demanded another kiss. His knee came up between hers, pushing her legs apart. He was wearing nothing but the soft cotton t-shirt and light-weight track pants. Evidence of his arousal pressed firmly into her hip.
Cassie pulled her head back. "What's gotten into you tonight?" she demanded.
Ben still didn't let go. His hands slid down her shoulders to rest on her breasts, his fingers tracing her curves through the silky fabric of her dress. "The thought of you being with that other guy has been driving me crazy all evening," he explained. There was a dangerous tone in his voice which scared Cassie a little, but also excited her. His fingers caressed a nipple and she fought to suppress a moan of desire.
"So you're allowed to have a girlfriend, but I'm not allowed to date?" she asked incredulously, trying to ignore the skilled hands on her breasts. "That doesn't seem fair at all!"
"Oh, you're allowed to date," Ben replied with a feral grin. "But not that loser. He's not worthy of you."
Cassie raised an eyebrow. "And you are worthy?"
"Of course not," he scoffed. "I'm just a selfish bastard who can't keep away from you." He leaned down to kiss her again, his lips hungrily exploring the soft skin of her neck and collarbone.
"But..." Cassie formed a half-hearted objection.
"No more talking!" he commanded. With one hand he tugged the strap of her dress and bra down until her breast popped out. Then he descended on it with his mouth, licking and sucking. Whatever Cassie had been about to say fled from her mind.
Ben's other hand reached for the hem of her dress and slipped underneath. Cassie whimpered as his fingers found the edge of her lacy g-string. Even though she wouldn't have slept with Doug on a first date, she had worn sexy lingerie anyway...just in case she was in a car accident or something. She gasped as his fingers pushed the fabric to one side and slipped inside.
"God, you're so wet," he whispered in delight. His fingers slid along her crease, pushing the lips apart and spreading her natural lubrication around. "So wet for me. Aren't you, gorgeous?"
One finger began to tease her clit, insistently demanding a response. Cassie shuddered in pleasure and her legs turned to rubber. If not for his body pressed against her she wouldn't have been able to support her own weight. "Yes," she admitted hoarsely. "I was thinking of you all evening."
Ben growled in satisfaction. He pulled his hand out from under Cassie's skirt but she barely had time to voice a complaint before he lifted her with both hands and deposited her on the teak dining table with her skirt bunched up around her waist. The he dragged the waistband of his pants down with one quick movement and pulled out his already-hard cock. Cassie barely had time to admire it before he pushed her panties to one side and thrust into her.
Even though they'd had sex many times before, Cassie was always shocked at how completely he filled her. She gasped and felt her muscles stretch around him.
"Fuck that feels good," Ben groaned. Cassie wrapped her legs around him and he drove into her again.
"Harder," she demanded breathlessly.
Ben did not disappoint. He thrust into her again and again, holding on to the table for leverage. Cassie held his gaze and saw the raw lust she felt reflected in his eyes. He smiled but the strain was beginning to show. Sure enough, a few seconds later he gave a strangled gasp and closed his eyes as he climaxed deep inside her.
He rested his head on her shoulder and kissed her neck as he got his breath back. Cassie ran her hands through his short brown curls and breathed in his scent. She clenched her inner muscles around him and was rewarded with another shudder. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "I should have held back but you're just too sexy."
"That's ok," she reassured him. "You can make it up to me."
Ben laughed. "I plan to." With barely a grunt of effort he picked her up and carried her to his bedroom like a caveman with a new prize.
Some time later Cassie lay flat on her back on Bed's bed, completely naked and completely sated. The sheets lay in a tangled mess around them and there was a sheen of sweat on her breasts. "That was amazing," she said happily. After getting no response she opened her eyes and discovered Ben was watching her with his head propped up on one elbow, a soft smile on his face. "What are you grinning about?" she demanded.
"I just like watching you," he said affectionately. Unfortunately his cell phone chose that moment to ring. He checked the display and glanced back at her with a guilty expression. "I'd better take this, sorry. I already missed a call earlier."
Cassie sighed and sat up. "I understand. Don't worry about it." She gathered her clothes as he answered the call.
"Hi honey, how are you?"
By the tone of his voice Cassie knew it was his long-distance girlfriend. She was in a different time zone so often called quite late. Cassie didn't know much about the woman except that she was a similar age to herself, late twenties, and doing a grad school program in Australia. She didn't really want to know any more. With the other woman so far away it was easy to pretend she didn't exist, that she and Ben were just two adults engaged in a bit of harmless fun. But now...Cassie felt a familiar lump of guilt in her throat. She knew it was wrong but Ben was just so damned irresistible. And she felt sorry for him being alone night after night. Long-distance relationships sucked, as she knew all too well.
Cassie grabbed one of Ben's t-shirts and pulled it over her head. It was long enough to afford her some modesty at least. Clothes under one arm, she tip-toed out to give him some privacy. She opened the front door a crack and peered out to make sure there was no-one else in the hallway. Then she scooted across to her own apartment.
Cassie showered and brushed her teeth and had just curled up in bed when her phone buzzed again. It was almost midnight. She groggily turned on the light and read the message.
#Please come back to bed?
She tapped a slightly irritated reply.
#I'm quite comfortable in my own bed, thank you.
The next text came barely two seconds later and consisted of a sad-face emoticon and nothing else. She felt a bit mean so sent another message.
#You're welcome to come and join me?
His indignant reply made her giggle.
#Your bed is an affront to my masculinity.
Cassie glanced up at the frilly floral fabric draped from her king-size canopy bed. It perfectly matched the roses on the duvet cover, and the pink tapestry cushions. Sure it was a bit over-the-top but her ex hated feminine décor and after moving out on her own Cassie had been determined to make the most of it and have the princess bed she always wanted. She was starting to tire of it, in fact, but hadn't got around to deciding on a new look.
She didn't bother replying to Ben's last text and put the phone down. But before she could turn out the light there was a knock at her front door. She reluctantly slipped out of bed and walked across the cold floor to open it. Ben was standing there in his pyjama pants with a sheepish expression on his face.
"I thought you said my bed was emasculating," she said grumpily.
"It is. But I'm willing to put up with it if it means I can be with you...and my t-shirt," he replied, looking pointedly at her night-time attire.
Cassie locked the door behind him and hurried to jump back into the warm bed. Ben followed and slid under the covers behind her. He draped his arm across her stomach and pulled her into a spooning position. "Come here, gorgeous," he murmured.
She put her cold feet on his leg but he barely managed a sleepy protest. "I should just give you a key," she said thoughtfully. Ben grunted in assent. Cassie turned the light off and soon fell asleep in his warm embrace.
Cassie arrived home from work on Friday evening in a despondent mood. One of the interns had made a careless mistake that made the results of her latest research experiment completely unusable. A whole month's work down the drain. She wished she could spend the evening with Ben; he always managed to make her laugh. But Ben was unavailable because his real girlfriend was coming home for mid-term break.
She angrily kicked off her calf-length boots and they made a satisfying thump on the floor. She wasn't even that upset about the lab stuff-up, it kind of came with the territory. But having a time-share boyfriend sucked. A little voice inside her head reminded her that Ben wasn't her boyfriend. They'd both agreed from the start that it was to be a purely casual, no-strings affair. She was free to date whomever she chose. Cassie chose to ignore the voice and grumpily made herself a sandwich.
A few minutes later there was a knock on Cassie's front door. She opened it to find Ben standing there, looking ruggedly handsome as usual in a merino pullover and jeans. For some reason he was holding a casserole dish wrapped in a tea-towel.
"I thought I wasn't going to see you tonight?" Cassie said in surprise.
Ben looked sheepish. "Melanie's flight doesn't arrive until nine. I was hoping we could just hang out for a couple of hours." He held up the steaming casserole dish. "I made you some dinner?"
Cassie glanced down at the unappetizing peanut-butter sandwich in her hand. She looked up again with a smile. "Sure, come on in!"
They ate on the couch in front of the TV and watched Big Bang Theory. Cassie enthusiastically polished off a serving of Ben's chicken casserole. Then she licked the last of the gravy off the plate.
Ben watched her with an amused expression. "So, it's good then?"
Cassie blushed slightly but refused to be embarrassed about her lack of social graces. They'd had this discussion before and she always insisted that in the privacy of her own home she could damn well lick her own plate if she wanted to. It made it easier to clean later anyway so it was just common sense. "Yes, it is really good," she said with a grin.
"Of course it is," he said smugly. "Just think, if you married me you could eat like this every night."
Cassie almost choked on the last of her dinner but managed to avoid showing any outward reaction. What prompted him to say that? Ben was the kind of person who would joke about anything and she couldn't really tell when he was being serious. It was safer to assume he wasn't.
"I guess so," she agreed. "And if we can persuade your girlfriend to do the other housework I'll have a really cruisy life."
Ben frowned. "That doesn't seem fair. You'll have to contribute somehow. Maybe you can mind the kids?"
Cassie crinkled her brow in bemusement. "You're weird," she said affectionately. She put aside her plate and moved closer to snuggle into his shoulder.
Ben put his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. "You're weirder." When the show finished he sighed and held her closer. "I'm really going to miss you next week."
Cassie cuddled into his broad chest. She didn't like to admit it but she was going to miss him too. "At least you won't be missing your girlfriend," she said pointedly. "So your overall level of pining should decrease, or at the very least remain constant."
Ben was silent for a while. "Perhaps I could sneak out for short periods, and come and see you?" he asked hopefully.
"No," Cassie exclaimed.
"Aww..." Ben did his best puppy-dog expression.
"I mean it," she said crossly. "It's your duty to pay lots attention to Melanie for the short time that she's here, and make her feel loved and appreciated."
Ben stared down at her. "I don't think I'll ever understand you," he said finally.
"Good," said Cassie. "Now shut up and kiss me because we've only got another half-hour."
For the next few days Cassie tried to avoid hanging around her apartment all by herself. On Saturday she made the most of the fine autumn weather and caught up with friends for some mountain biking in the Waitakere ranges. On Sunday she went for a long run and then visited her parents. On Monday she worked late to re-create the lab experiment that had been compromised. But on Tuesday she found herself home alone, without plans for the evening.
Rain pelted the windows. Cassie made herself a sandwich and snuggled up in bed with her e-Reader. After a few minutes she realised she was reading the same paragraph over and over again.
"Damn it!" Cassie flung the reader down on the bed. She couldn't get Ben out of her thoughts. He was a great lover but she also liked just being around him. He challenged her, teased her, and brought out her playful side. Plus he had the cutest smile...
Cassie groaned again. She had to find a guy who was actually available. She considered her options. Doug was long since out of the picture, after their boring second date. Tuesday wasn't exactly the easiest night to meet someone new, even if she was in the mood to put her out there. But there was one option that might help take her mind off her neighbour. She picked up her cell phone and dialled a number she still knew off by heart.
Cassie threw on some yoga pants and a warm sweater and drove to Glen Eden through the pouring rain. She knocked on the door of a very familiar, modest-looking townhouse. An equally familiar dark-haired man opened it.
"Hi James," she said uncertainly.
He grinned. "Hey, you. Come on in out of the rain."
Cassie gratefully stepped inside and gave him a quick hug. She kicked off her shoes and followed James down the hall, admiring the way his jeans melded to his butt as he walked. He looked good. The weight training was obviously paying off.
James led her into the lounge and Cassie stopped and stared in shock. There were computer parts and tools everywhere. On the desk, the floor, the shelves...even piled on one chair. "Sorry about the mess," he said casually. "I would have cleaned up a bit if you'd given me more warning."
Cassie took a deep breath and tried to focus on James instead of their surroundings. "Don't worry about it, I don't mind."
"Yes, you do," he contended with a sly grin. "You're just itching to tidy up and hide everything in a closet somewhere."
"You're right," she admitted. "But it's your place now. I'll just have to control myself."
James offered her a hot chocolate, which she gratefully accepted. She sank down into the worn-looking couch, the one piece of furniture which wasn't covered in clutter. James sat down beside her and put his hand affectionately on her thigh.
"So, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" he asked. "It's been months since your last booty call."
Cassie blushed slightly. "I just felt like some company this evening. I hope you don't mind."
"Of course I don't mind," he replied. "You know I'm always happy to see you. So long as you don't expect me to watch a chick-flick with you."
"Thanks," said Cassie. She sipped her hot chocolate and was glad to find she still felt completely at ease with James. If not his décor. After splitting up over a year ago they'd discovered they got along much better as friends than as a couple.
She felt James's eyes on her. "You look tense," he observed. "I can see the knots in your muscles from here."
Cassie smiled wryly. "You're right. Could I impose on you for one of your famous massages?"
"Of course," he replied.
When Cassie finished the hot chocolate he led her into the bedroom. She was happy to notice the room was a bit tidier than the lounge. The bed was even made, with appropriately masculine grey sheets and duvet. James pulled back the blankets and laid down a towel to stop oil from staining the sheets. Cassie stripped off to her panties, not in the least self-conscious in front of him. She flopped down on the bed on her stomach as James found the massage oil.
The bed dipped on either side of her as he straddled her hips. Then she sighed in contentment at the first stroke of his warm hands on her bare shoulders.
"I thought so," said James as he prodded her back. Cassie winced as he found the tender spots. "If you came to me more often you wouldn't get these terrible knots."
"Sorry," said Cassie. "I guess I have been a bit stressed lately."
"Well, stop it," he commanded. "I like your body too much to want to see you ruin it." His hands brushed against the sides of her breasts.
Cassie smiled but then winced again as he found another knot. "How have you been, anyway?" she asked casually.
"I can't complain," he replied. "Business is going well, but I still have time for fun."
"Are you seeing anyone?"
"Not seriously. But I'm certainly not lacking for female companionship if that's what you're asking."